In Our Paradise

Dans notre paradis

- FRANCE / 2019 / Bosnian, French, German / Color / DCP / 77 min

Director, Photography: Claudia Marschal
Script: Claudia Marschal, Ian Simpson
Editing: Marie Da Costa, Julie Dupré
Sound: Xavier Griette, Grégory Pernet, Nicolas Rhode
Producer: Pierre-Olivier Bardet
Production Company: Idéale Audience International
World Sales: Sweet Spot Docs

After leaving her home country of Bosnia fourteen years ago, Mehdina now lives with her family in eastern France. Her elder sister Indira had tried to immigrate to Germany with her help, but she was refused refugee status and forced to return. Many burdens and obstacles prevent these two women and their children from realizing their dreams of the future. The film conveys in an electrifying manner the reality and cries for help of those who confront an increasingly xenophobic world, in which the place they belong is fast vanishing.

[Director’s Statement] In Our Paradise began in 2003 when I first met Mehdina. She had recently obtained refugee status in France and was temporarily sheltered in a synagogue opposite my grandmother’s house. Convinced there was a story to be told, I decided to follow an unwavering intuition that eventually guided me to Bosnia-Herzegovina where I met Mehdina’s sister Indira. The whole story then came to light: two sisters fighting for a place in an ever increasingly hostile world.

With Indira, we see her daily life in a Roma district in northern Bosnia-Herzegovina, where a marginalised minority battles to make ends meet while dreaming of elsewhere. Mehdina’s life in France illustrates the everyday experience of exile, with all its difficulties and obstacles—a happy success in the eyes of Indira, who is relentless in her mission to leave her native village, despite repeated and failed departures.

The conflict between the two sisters—between the one who has supposedly “made it” and the one who is trying to “make it”—presented an interesting dramaturgic perspective. The pressure on the one detached from family and origins, to support those that have stayed breeds a number of undesirable emotions between two sisters who are seen gradually growing apart. Yet it is the unyielding amount of love they share that enables heartfelt communication.

I hope that the spectator feels something in watching this film—freeing oneself from common rhetoric and false beliefs that are being distributed at a disturbingly frequent rate and also realising that whilst the utopia of a borderless world seems to have lost its aura, the future generation looks beyond the stars in search of new frontiers.

Claudia Marschal

Claudia Marschal lives and works in Paris. After obtaining a master’s degree in documentary filmmaking, she developed her first project The Other Side in 2010. The film was shot in Texas. In 2012, she completed I Am Kombi which was shot in California, the Republic of the Congo, and throughout Europe. In 2015, she directed a collection of five short films entitled Who Wants to Eat Super Heroes?, composed of archival footage and animation. The collection is designed for a pre-teen audience. In Our Paradise is her first feature-length film.